FPGA 2012
Conference paper

A cycle-accurate, cycle-reproducible multi-FPGA system for accelerating multi-core processor simulation

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Software based tools for simulation are not keeping up with the demands for increased chip and system design complexity. In this paper, we describe a cycle-accurate and cycle-reproducible large-scale FPGA platform that is designed from the ground up to accelerate logic verification of the Bluegene/Q compute node ASIC, a multi-processor SOC implemented in IBM's 45 nm SOI CMOS technology. This paper discusses the challenges for constructing such large-scale FPGA platforms, including design partitioning, clocking & synchronization, and debugging support, as well as our approach for addressing these challenges without sacrificing cycle accuracy and cycle reproducibility. The resulting fullchip simulation of the Bluegene/Q compute node ASIC runs at a simulated processor clock speed of 4 MHz, over 100,000 times faster than the logic level software simulation of the same design. The vast increase in simulation speed provides a new capability in the design cycle that proved to be instrumental in logic verification as well as early software development and performance validation for Bluegene/Q. © 2012 ACM.